The Power of the 'Normal'
Inside the ‘Inclusive’ Childhood Classroom: The Power of the ‘Normal’ offers a critique of current practices and alternative view of inclusion. The rich data created inside three classrooms will challenge those who work in the field, as the children and their performances, previously overlooked, are foreground. Although at times confronting, it is ultimately invaluable reading for classroom teachers, students, academics, and researchers as well as anyone who desires to deepen their understanding of inclusive processes. The inclusion of children with diagnosed special needs in mainstream early childhood classrooms is a policy and practice that has gained universal support in recent decades. Exploring ways to include the diagnosed child has been of interest to inclusive research. Adopting a poststructural perspective, this book interrupts taken for granted assumptions about inclusive processes in the classroom. Attention is drawn to the role played by the undiagnosed children, those positioned as already included. Researching among children, this ethnography interrogates the production of the classroom ‘normal’. As the children negotiate difference, the operations of the ‘normal’ are made visible in their words and actions. In their encounters with the diagnosed Other, they take up practices of tolerance and silence, effecting fear, separation, and a desire to cure. These performances echo practices, presumed abandoned, from centuries past. As a way forward this book urges a rethink of practice-as-usual, as these effects are problematic for inclusion and not sustainable. A greater scrutiny of the ‘normal’ is needed, as the power it exercises, impacts on all children and how they become subjects in the classroom.
1 Troubling Inclusion: Policy and Practice
Policy and Practice
The move toward ‘inclusive’ policy and practice in early childhood education in Australia, as in other parts of the world, is a relatively recent trend (Nutbrown & Clough, 2009). Although written about in the 1970s, inclusion for children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms only emerged as an option during the 1990s (Odom, 2000). Historically, the moves from the institutional care of disabled children to segregated educational settings, and then onto policies of integration of children into mainstream educational environments, opened additional possibilities for children. Inclusion replaced integration as a preferred model (UNESCO, 1994). This movement towards inclusion was introduced with the view to change existing structures and to potentially change the view of disability in society (Oliver, 2013; Purdue, 2009). “Supporters for inclusion argue that inclusive education respects the unique contributions of each child and supports the civic, social, and educational rights of all children in the normal daily life of the school” (Boldt & Valente, 2014, p. 202). The Australian Government’s Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009) introduced into early childhood education in 2009, supports the idea of “inclusive learning communities” (p. 15) where ability and disability are viewed as aspects of diversity. Inclusion for the most part is taken for granted as an appropriate practice in early childhood today.←11 | 12→
Questioning the Notion and Practice of Inclusion
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